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Carousel or confection
May 11, 2010, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Experience

It’s Autumn and the golden light seems to have tinted everyone and everything. I still seem to be navel gazing around nostalgia – perhaps the weather is my excuse.

I’m intrigued by a string of sepia-toned, passage of time-y, wasn’t it better and isn’t life fleeting confections being used to hock pretty much any product or service you care to think about. I’m sure you can pull a few to mind but have a look at  John Lewis’ Never Knowingly Undersold and Sunbeam.

The Sunbeam TVC had this comment on Youtube:

SugarBeeDee Not another freaking whimsical, faux happy moment ad!
The summery pastely hipster thing has been whored to death and rather than make me feel all shinyfuckinghappy, I want to bash my head on a wall or kick the TV.
The song is so tacky too.
Argh, take it off and make something that doesn’t rot out teeth from our skulls, please!

If you do a shallow dive into the meaning of nostalgia you get this:

The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.

Idealization is dangerous it seems powerful but really what it delivers is propoganda. You can’t own it. You can’t prove it and you can’t deliver it.

I can’t help but think that a lot of this ‘past that never happened’ stuff seems to create an emotional connection, with Mumbrella and others calling the John Lewis ad The Most Powerful of the Year. I wonder how useful this construct is in creating an imperative to take action. Is the argument of this notion not more than : We’ve been there in the past? Is there a strong enough ladder to the plea: You should be with us in the future?

Pretty bland stuff.

In “The Wheel” the writers of Mad Men use that emotional ladder to create a need for a new product  and tie it to a universal human need :

Don Draper: Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.

Bud Caddell’s presentation There’s More Time Than The Present examins how we experience ‘time’ to help craft more effective opportunities for calls to action. I’m liking the tension in between nostalgia and ‘time machine’. And what I’m thinking about is don’t forget to find that pain. It’s where  the moment of truth lies. These moments are ‘around and around’, in the past and the future and they bind us together. So instead of using a mirror to reflect something that never happened it might be more useful to become that centre of gravity- a carousel that will give you an experience, show you the future and the past and deliver you home.


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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katie Chatfield and mo' stash, SocialMedio. SocialMedio said: Carousel or confection […]

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Looks like the creatives dug deep into their Italian nostalgia bank to fleece the idea too. Even the same song???

Comment by Andrew Apple

This is fascinating, Katie. In my experience nostalgia is also powerful when it’s generation-specific. Notice that so many popular 80s TV shows and movies are being remade? Generation X forgot to grow up, we just get bigger toys to play with 🙂

Comment by Simon Young

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